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CPAC 2015: Psychology of Anime (Panel Review)

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Anime has been one of the fastest growing forms of media for the past several decades. Anime fandom connects many different social circles and bridges different nationalities. But what inherently draws so many people in? Here we will discuss what is intrinsic in human psychology to draw such a diverse following. We will break down different aspects and theories in psychology to explore the possibilities. Psychology of Anime is a product of Substandard Science.

At this year's Castle Point Anime Convention, the last panel I checked out and was most interested in was Keith Levinson's “Psychology of Anime”. I was always curious and wanted to find out just what it is with Anime that attracts so many diverse demographics. I was interested to learn the scientific assessment side of it and I was glad I attended. For 1 ½ hours, we learned a lot about ourselves and our attraction to Anime.

First of all, the panel was packed – way more than what I was expecting. It had the most attendees out of all the panels I attended. Throughout the whole session, people were still coming in. The panel was hosted by Keith Levinson along with his assistant. Before Levinson wanted to get further into the session, he wanted to conduct an experiment. Whenever anyone else comes in from that moment, he wanted the audience to applaud that person as loud as they could without stopping until the person either walks out, takes a seat or stays in the room standing. The purpose of the experiment was for us to see the different reactions a person shows. A basic example of how Psychology works. It was a fun experiment as almost all of them definitely had different reactions.

On to a more serious topic, Levinson discussed the different levels, parts and overall science of Psychology. For the sake of our sanity, I'll spare us the complicated medical and scientific terms as much as possible. One of the topics he delved into was about the visual system - how our eyes process lights and images, as well as breaking down cognitive functions including the different types of attention. So what does this have to do with anime, you ask? Levinson explained that anime is easy on the eyes. It's composed of basic shapes that are easy to process. Furthermore, he explained that most anime characters are designed to have different eyes and hair colors to make it easier to distinguish them from each other. Basically, he claims that anime is a cheap, easy, non-complicated form of visual entertainment that doesn't require our brains to work too much. In other words, our brains are lazy! Yes, that's right. Our brains are wired to be efficient so that it doesn't have to work too hard, which make sense and I agree.

However, do I agree with him that the only reason why we are inherently drawn to anime is because of its basic shapes and colors that are easy on the eyes and for our brains to process? Not entirely. If this was the case, how come American cartoons are not as popular? (I'm talking more about TV cartoon shows). I believe that they're more basic shaped and has flatter colors. In contrast, I'm drawn to anime because of its rich layered colors, elaborate art design, and most importantly, of its great story. How is it easy when you're watching and reading subtitles at the same time? This alone uses a couple of your cognitive functions (unless you're watching English dubbed version). There are so many types of anime genres for different types of people of different age groups. This for me is what makes anime so popular and why we are inherently drawn to it.

Of course, this doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the panel. In fact, quite the opposite. This was the most intellectual, educational, and thought-engaging panel I've ever attended. It actually made me feel like I want to go back to school and study Psychology. Levinson even had us participate in psycho-analyzing an anime character as to why they're crazy (Vegeta of Dragonball Z, in this case) then diagnosing him after. It was truly a wonderful panel and I'm glad I picked it to end my day.

BY: Jovanni Febrero
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